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Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center

6 Top-Rated Things to Do in Old Saybrook (2023)

Old Saybrook is a town full of history. The history of this beautiful coastal town can be traced back all the way back to the time when it was only a colony in 1635. Located at the mouth of the Connecticut River, Old Saybrook overflows with the quaint New England charm, making it a favorite holiday destination, especially in the summer. It is one of the oldest and most beautiful coastal towns in Connecticut, sitting just 100 miles away from both Boston and New York City.

Old Saybrook is one of the best places to visit in all of Connecticut, boasting of a beautiful coastline along the mouth of the Connecticut River, where it meets the Long Island Sound.

6 Top-Rated Things to Do in Old Saybrook

Here are some of the best things to do in the coastal town of Old Saybrook.

1. Visit the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center is one of the best places to visit if you want to feel inspired. This is the artistic heart of the town and the most popular tourist attraction in Old Saybrook. The center opened in 2009 in honor of the many times Academy Award-winning actress and a former resident of Old Saybrook. Referred to locally as The Kate, this used to initially be the Old Saybrook Musical and Dramatic Club. Today, visitors to this center are in for a real treat as they get to enjoy a wide range of performances. From films to concerts and dance performances to plays are put up here.

Fans of the iconic movie star will definitely enjoy exploring the small museum here that features many photographs, awards, and even a self-portrait. The center remains open Tuesdays to Fridays from 10 am to 4 pm. Entry to the center is free.

2. Enjoy Impressionist Art at the Florence Griswold Museum

Old Saybrook is truly an artist’s paradise. The next big attraction in the town is located just outside of its borders – the Florence Griswold Museum. Sitting about five miles northeast and in the city of Old Lyme, the museum is spread across 12 acres and highlighted by the mesmerizing Lieutenant River.

The brightly colored Georgian masterpiece, which was the home of Florence Griswold, is the highlight of the museum. Designed by Samuel Belcher in 1817, this bright yellow house used to be a boarding house at one point in time, with the structure playing home to many artists from all over the world. These artists have gone on to form the American Impressionist Old Lyme Art Colony.

It is estimated that over 130 artists stayed at this beautiful home between 1899 to the 1930s. Many of them were also invited to paint the panels on the walls and doors of the house. There are over 40 uniquely painted panels on display today.

3. Life in the Revolution Era at General William Hart House

One of the best examples of Georgian colonial architecture is the General William Hart House, which dates back to 1767. It is currently the center of the Old Saybrook Historical Society. This beautiful building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and you will be left in awe to look at the wealth of its past owner, General William Hart.

General Hart was a revolution-era political and military figure who built the house for his then-wife Esther Buckingham. Inside the house, visitors can see many memorabilia from multiple time periods, including a sealskin-covered Cromwellian Chair, an outfit worn by Governor John Winthrop Jr., and the Saybrook/Guilford Chest.

4. Enjoy Building A Sandcastle at Harvey’s Beach

Harvey Beach is one of the most popular spots in Old Saybrook to relax and rejuvenate. Home to soft white sand and some of the most beautiful sunsets, this lovely beach is known as one of the best beaches in Connecticut. The beach is popular with families owing to the calm and shallow waters of Long Island Sound.

The beach has around one hundred yards of pristine coastline, a playground, and clear water that welcomes you to spend a day of fun in the sand. If you want to have more space on the beach, visit it during low tide, when even more of the white sand gets revealed.

5. Surround Yourself With History at the Fort Saybrook Monument Park

Another must-visit place in Old Saybrook is the Fort Saybrook Monument Park, which is sprawled across 18 acres, touching the mouth of the mesmerizing Connecticut River. Located at the end of Saybrook Point, this beautiful area, 11 acres of which are only marshland, is home to one of the least developed large river tidal systems in the US. And apart from this area’s natural wonders, this park offers visitors a grand history lesson through the many informational signs that span the park. You get to find out interesting tidbits right from the time the park was developed in the late 1500s to the Fort’s leveling and transformation into a track and roundhouse for the Connecticut Valley Railroad.

If you want to indulge in more fun activities, you can visit the popular Mini Golf at Saybrook Point located nearby, which is open from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day Weekend.

6. Hiking at Rocky Neck State Park

You can reach the beautiful Rocky Neck State Park by taking a ten mile drive east from the city center of Old Saybrook. Located in East Lyme, the park is famous for its soft, sandy beach, due to which there are a lot of crowds here on the warm summer days. You can think about enjoying a picnic on the beach, building sandcastles, or just cooling off in the water.

In addition to offering the best place to soak up some sun, you can also enjoy activities like hiking, fishing, and camping on-site at the Rocky Neck State Park. Spread out over 710 acres, you will find plenty of places for adventure and a varied terrain to explore if you go hiking.

For those who want to try out some different things, consider visiting the Baker’s Cave to look for blue crabs in the salt marsh. Or you can go fishing at Bride Brook, which is full of mackerel, flounder, and striped bass. If you want to spend the night, you can always set up a tent at one of the 160 camping spots inside the park.

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